Culture and education
is an award-winning social enterprise entrepreneur,
CEO and mentor
She has spent a third of her professional life in the private sector and two thirds working with NGOs. However, she has been involved in the not-for-profit sector for much longer; at the age of 18 she co-founded the Amnesty International Working Group for Children both campaigning for children who were victims of torture or imprisoned and successfully lobbying Amnesty to make it part of their mandate.
Leonor Stjepic was born in London, to a family of Spanish refugees who fled Franco’s Spain. She grew up bi-lingual in Spanish and English and was the first woman in her family to have a career.
Leonor’s first part of her career was spent in the private sector. She has worked for a packer and shipper of antiques and works of art; a Mexican merchant bank; the record company Decca; and an academic publishing company. Following that Leonor ran her own consultancy company, supporting SMEs with growth and change, in the UK and in Spain. She was also a partner in an art gallery in Knightsbridge, London.
During the war in the Balkans, she volunteered to work with children and women who were victims of the war. It was there that she met her husband. Coming back to London, Leonor started working with Fields in Trust (then National Playing Fields Association).
Following that she worked for Index on Censorship before becoming the first Executive Director of the Galapagos Conservation Trust where she worked with the BBC on the first Galapagos series with David Attenborough and transformed the organisation into the voice of Galapagos in the UK (with several front page articles in the newspapers).
Her next CEO role was as Chief Executive of medical research charity, RAFT. During her time at RAFT, she created a life sciences company, Smart Matrix Ltd, and was its CEO for five years, whilst concurrently serving as CEO of RAFT. Under her leadership both organisations won a number of international awards. Bank of America called the spin-out a case study for de-risking social investment.
In June 2018, Leonor took up her third CEO role as Chief Executive of the Montessori Group.
Leonor is also a firm believer in mentoring. She is a mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation and mentors a number of young women at different stages of their careers.
Leonor has personally won a number of awards:
• Female CEO of the Year, Acquisition International 2017
• Most Innovative CEO in the Not for Profit Sector, Business Worldwide 2017
• UK Gamechanger of the Year, ACQ5 Global Awards 2017
• Silver Award Business Female Executive of the Year – Government and Not for Profit, Stevies Awards 2015
In 2019, The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) gave Leonor a World of Difference Award for “making all the difference to the economic empowerment of women” and the Global Forum for Education and Learning named her one of the Top 100 Leaders in Education.
Rebecca Alban Hoffberger
Founder, Director, and Principal Curator
American Visionary Art Museum
Rebecca Alban Hoffberger is the founder, director, and principal curator of the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM). A life-long devotee of the power of intuition and fresh thought, Hoffberger was accepted into college at age 15, though chose instead mime Marcel Marceau’s personal invitation to become his first American apprentice in Paris. By 19, she had co-founded her own ballet company and by 21, was a sought-after consultant to a broad spectrum of nonprofits, including research and development scientific companies. At 25, Hoffberger was awarded the title of “Dame” for her work to establish medical field hospitals in Nigeria. She studied alternative and folk medicine in Mexico. Returning to the States, Hoffberger served on the Board of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Center in Virginia and worked as Development Director at the Sinai Hospital Department of Psychiatry for People Encouraging People, where she first conceived her unique national visionary museum/education center.
In recognition of distinguished achievement in the museum field, Hoffberger was awarded the 2011 Katherine Coffey Award by the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums. Hoffberger has received Honorary Doctorates from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Stevenson University, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, and McDaniel College, as well as awarded Loyola College’s Andrew White Award—the school’s highest civic honor—the College of Notre Dame Sarah’s Circle Award, and selected as Franklin & Marshall College’s Conrad Nelson Lecturer. She is an inductee into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, a winner of the Urban Land Institute’s National Award for Excellence, Israel Bonds’ Golda Meir Award, and the first recipient of the Sir Arthur C. Clarke Vision and Imagination Award. Among many honors in recognition of her human rights activism, Hoffberger has won the On Our Own mental health national anti-stigma Visionary Award, the Urban League’s Whitney M. Young, Jr. Honoree for Outstanding Community Involvement & Support for Equal Opportunity, Maryland YWCA President’s Award, and was principal curator celebrating playwright’s Eve Ensler’s BIG LOVE New Orleans 10th Anniversary of “The Vagina Monologues” that had raised $50 million to help global women anti-violence programs. Hoffberger’s Seven Education Goals provided the founding mission for the young activist organization, The Lower Eastside Girls Club, New York City. She has been an international keynote conference speaker at the Tate Modern and at India’s Rock Garden.
Of her more recent honors, they include the prestigious Visionary Award from the American Folk Art Museum in 2017, the 2019 Images and Voices of Hope Journalism Award, induction into the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame, and the 2019 Roger D. Redden Award from the Baltimore Architecture Foundation for her “significant role and many accomplishments in advancing Baltimore’s built environment and cultural community through the American Visionary Art Museum.” In 2020, The Daily Record bestowed her with an Icon Award.
The titles to Rebecca’s exhibitions sum up beautifully both her personal philosophy and passion: “ALL FAITHS BEAUTIFUL: From Atheism to Zoroastrianism, Respect for Diversity of Belief,” “The Marriage of Art, Science & Philosophy,” and “Race, Class & Gender: Three things that contribute ‘0’ to CHARACTER, because being a schmuck is an equal opportunity for everyone!”